Summit at governor's mansion takes aim at higher ed problems

Tuesday, July 10, 2012 at 5:25pm

Gov. Bill Haslam knows that solving the complex problems surrounding higher education in Tennessee won't come easy. But on Tuesday, the state took the first step to addressing issues by hosting a post-secondary education meeting at Conservation Hall in the Governor's Mansion.

“The challenge is very obvious ... the status quo won't hold,” Haslam said. “Today is the beginning of a process.”

That process included bringing together representatives from the Tennessee Board of Regents, University of Tennessee System and the Tennessee Higher Education Commission to hear presentations from well-renowned higher education experts.

Bill Tucker from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation said that for every 100 high school students in Tennessee, only 43 enroll in college and even fewer complete a postsecondary degree. Tucker said the problem boils down to what college presidents called “the iron triangle” — the interconnectivity between cost, quality and access.

That would prove to be a theme throughout the afternoon.

Nicole Smith, an economist and researcher at Georgetown University, pointed out that many manufacturing jobs go unfilled because of a lack of skilled workers. She talked about educating students regarding the occupational outlook for each major or program they consider.

TBR Chancellor John Morgan agreed with the sentiment of connecting higher education to the workplace.

“Part of what will lead to [a public] investment [in higher education] will be meeting the needs of the marketplace and employers,” Morgan said.

Haslam characterized the higher education problem as a cycle.

“Students and parents are saying 'you cant keep raising tuition,' higher education looks to state government and says 'hey, you're not giving us enough money.' State government says 'We're not sure we're getting full value from you,' ” Haslam said.

Haslam said the next step is seven regional stops across the state where the governor will meet with local employers and educators to seek input about higher education initiatives.

3 Comments on this post:

By: pswindle on 7/10/12 at 5:35

I haven't heard the GOP blasting the Bunker, but i guess it's ok for meetings if it is done with the GOP. Watch out highter eduction! Here come the idea of letting the private sector run the schools.

By: yucchhii on 7/11/12 at 9:14

WHO CARES...The Govenor is a CRIMINAL just like the rest of the politicians that are in office all the way up to the PRESIDENT OF THE USA!!!!

By: BigPapa on 7/12/12 at 7:16

I think what we are seeing now is the fall out from the "everybody should go to college" mindset that's existed for 20+ years. The colleges let in people that shouldn't be in there, the HS did a terrible job of preparing the student for college because rather than focusing on kids who can actually do college prep work, they had to water it down for EVERYONE.

Colleges are there to sell classes- period. What they've done is take these unprepared kids, sell them classes, sell them on the idea and promise of something better, after all going into debt for college is seen as noble, an "investment in your future" right? In the end what you got were lots of people that never finished school, or got sold a college degree in some half baked major that means nothing (go into debt for $150,000 to get a job that pays $35,000). They basically paid to get the education they should have received in HS, and now they have tons of student loan debt hanging over their heads, and they are all of 23 yrs old.